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In celebration of women’s history month, PDCflow is highlighting the work and journeys of a few women in the financial services industry. PDCflow’s Marketing Manager Dawn Updike had the opportunity last December to meet these women and see them present at insideARM’s Women in Consumer and Commercial Finance conference.
Over the last few weeks we featured two talented, hardworking women who are involved in very different areas of the financial services industry.
We first featured Robin Cole, who is involved in the association world as the Associate Executive Director of the National Creditors Bar Association. In our second article, we interviewed Linda Straub Jones, who has lengthy history in several areas, but recently made a career move to NeuAnalytics as a Senior Account Executive.
Today we introduce you to Britt Suttell. She works in the Pennsylvania office of Barron & Newburger, P.C. and is a member of the firm’s Consumer Financial Services Law Practice Group.
Prior to joining the firm she was a shareholder at Burton Neil & Associates, P.C., where she served as the firm’s Director of Compliance.
In addition to her litigation experience Brit is experienced in the creation, implementation and administration of policies, procedures, and compliance management systems. Her non-litigation experience also includes the handling of regulatory complaints. She has substantial familiarity with multiple consumer financial protection laws, and she has trained collectors and facilitated law firm audits by clients in the financial sector.
She lead an insightful workshop during the women's conference in December on unconscious basis - learned stereotypes that are automatic or unintentional but can affect our behavior with other people, especially in the work environment.
Barron & Newburger, P.C., Attorney
What are your responsibilities at Barron & Newburger, P.C.? What is a typical day like for you?
I am an attorney with my Firm and I handle both defense work and compliance matters for my client. I think like many in this industry, there is no “typical day.” I usually try to get caught up on industry and legal news first thing and then map out my day based on any upcoming litigation deadlines, regulatory deadlines, or client deadlines.
Of course, there are many days when I have a plan of what I want to accomplish and one phone call from a client with a pressing compliance need or new litigation can completely derail that. I enjoy the variety as monotony is generally boring.
Every woman's journey is unique. What brought you to the financial services industry and to where you are today?
Well, I was kind of born into the world of legal debt collection. My Dad, Bill Suttell, started a debt collection law firm in Seattle, WA and I remember spending time there as a little kid. I also worked there throughout college and part of law school. I’ve done everything from calling debtors, preparing court work, serving summons, filing, and conducting debtor examinations in court.
About half-way through law school, I started working for my aunt doing civil traffic matters and minor criminal traffic matters. That was great experience, as I was in court everyday handling a decent-sized caseload. After law school, I moved to Pennsylvania and my first job was with a debt collection law firm where I worked for about 10 years, eventually becoming the chief compliance officer.
I enjoy compliance but was missing the litigation piece so moving over to my current firm which allows me to do both was a great fit. Not to mention, getting to work with the amazing attorneys in my Firm who have an incredible amount of knowledge about the industry.
When researching for your presentation on unconscious bias, did anything in particular surprise you? What was your biggest takeaway?
Many things surprised me when researching unconscious bias. I read the book Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald, which I highly recommend. It’s a short, relatively easy read.
I think one of the illuminating aspects of the book was when the authors took their own implicit bias test and found that, despite their academic careers spent focusing on bias, they still unconsciously biased toward certain groups of people.
My biggest takeaway is that everyone should take the implicit bias test – unconscious bias is not something that you can correct unless you understand your own blind spots.
What have you found to be your biggest challenge or hurdle in your career so far?
I think when I had my first son because it really opened my own eyes to the fact that men really can take advantage of the time a competent woman takes off for a child. Whether those actions are intentional or not, the impact is the same – women are competitively disadvantaged for having kids.
Have you had mentors who helped you grow in your career? If so, how have they helped you?
Yes! The first is my Dad. I still call him up for advice and talk through cases or problems with him. He’s the smartest guy I know and I’m incredibly grateful to him. Then, in no particular order, my aunt, Jeannie P. Mucklestone for being a great role model about being a tough, smart litigator; Joann Needleman who has been another great strong and intelligent woman who has taught me more than she probably knows.
Last, but certainly not least, Manny Newburger; his constant support as well as his incredible ability to teach and his knowledge of law, generally, continues to be an invaluable perk of working for him!
Bragging time... what professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
That’s tough. I think anytime I can get a really good result for a client. Recently, I had a pro se attorney plaintiff dismiss a lawsuit against my client after I filed a Motion to Dismiss, so that felt pretty good!
Do you have any advice for women entering the financial services industry today?
Find your people and find your niche. There are lots of different people in this industry and many different ways to use your talents. Find a strong, supportive group of women and cultivate those relationships.
Thanks to Brit for sharing her experiences and advice. Stay informed on the next interviews in this series and learn from the experiences of a variety of industry peers in our Thriving in Collections series. Sign up for the PDCflow Blog:
- ABOUT THE AUTHOR -
Dawn Updike, Marketing Manager
Dawn Updike is a Marketing Manager at PDCflow. She has a background in Customer Success and has worked in the SaaS industry for over ten years.